Remote Leadership: The Dos and Don’ts of Managing Your Team from a Distance

Remote Leadership: The Dos and Don’ts of Managing Your Team from a Distance

Remote Leadership: Pointing at a map.

In these unprecedented times, office employees were quickly forced to adjust to working from home. And, as a result, those with direct reports must now lead remotely. The good news is that, despite what many believe, “Productivity of employees who work from home is 13% higher than office-bound colleagues,” according to Stanford University.

Nonetheless, managing remote employees – especially during this time when all of our lives have been turned upside down – presents a new challenge for managers and other leaders. Our 3-part on-demand webinar series covers all aspects of navigating remote work and leadership during COVID-19.

Here are some Dos and Don’ts to help you navigate this new environment:

The Basics

Do: Focus on your team.

  • Create a culture of follow up and follow through: Set clear goals and expectations, and then keep your team accountable and vice versa.
  • Organize scheduled one-on-ones
  • Be encouraging: Recognize your team members by writing a short email, texting a quick message and the like. Be creative!
  • Build connections: This is always a good practice, but now more than ever we need them. Quick daily check-ins are a good idea.
  • Have “open door” hours: Schedule daily hours that you will be available to talk with your employees.
  • Find the good: During these time, you may discover some hidden strengths/talents on your team.

Don’t:

  • Forget your manners
  • Assume they know what you’re thinking, what you want, how you’re feeling, how your day has been, etc.
  • Be disrespectful of their time
  • Focus more on their schedule versus results
  • Micromanage: Instead, DO lead based on what your direct reports need and communicate when you need more from them.
  • Let standards/expectations slide
  • Lose sight of business goals

COMMUNICATION

Do:

  • Overall:
    • Be consistent, clear and courteous
    • Quality versus quantity
    • Understand the context
    • Promote teamwork, no “us” versus “them”
    • Stay calm under pressure
  • Regarding your organization’s messages:
    • Own them
    • Show respect for the organization, other teams, other functions
  • Set team/individual communication norms (e.g., NNTR = No Need to Respond)
  • Make time for “small” talk
  • Move from certainty to curiosity: Fight the assumption of negative intentions and ask questions when even a little bit in doubt
  • Ask “good” questions: For example, “What’s getting in your way?” and “What has been a ‘win’ for you today?”
  • Technology: Regularly update your availability on Skype, MS Teams, etc.; Explore and experiment with different programs, apps, etc.

Don’t:

  • Make assumptions in general, in particular that you have been understood (e.g., “This needs to be done quickly.”)
  • Communicate as you would in person
  • Be a communication bully: Choose your communication volume wisely. Do you really need to text, email and voicemail the same message?
  • Think brief communication is clear communication: Sometimes brief is not enough
  • Forget a team member

Leading a Team Remotely – big picture guidelines

Check out additional best practices to help keep your teams thriving while working away from the office.

  1. Monitor team communication.
    • Are email threads getting too long?
    • Are all relevant parties copied on communications?
    • What seems effective/ineffective?
    • What feedback do you need?
  2. Conduct impromptu check-Ins via Microsoft Teams, Skype, text, etc.
  3. Send team updates.
    • Determine what frequency is appropriate (e.g., weekly, daily). This could vary by project or other variables.
    • Check your tone: Is it encouraging? Informative?
  4. Schedule regular one-on-one calls with each direct report to discuss:
    • Virtual “water cooler”
      • How are you doing?
      • Are there any challenges you are experiencing working remotely.
    • Scheduling organized calls
      • How often should we have a scheduled call?
      • When? (set up calendar invites immediately)
      • What will be discussed?
    • How should we communicate between calls?
      • Email? Skype? Text? IM? Call?
      • What is your preference? What is my preference?
    • Office hours
      • Emergency? Call my cell
    • Agree that when unsure about any communication, ask! This will minimize misinterpretation.
  5. Hold a weekly video team meeting.
    • Include all appropriate employees
    • Ask an opening question to build connection (e.g., “What’s one thing you did this week that you didn’t expect to?,” “What’s the funniest thing that happened this week?,” etc.)
    • Seek feedback
      • What’s working? What isn’t? What do we need to adjust?
      • How are we communicating?
      • Focus on business objectives: updates, results, priorities, challenges, etc.
      • Also allow and even encourage laughter, lightheartedness
      • Stay on time

Following these Dos, Don’ts and big picture guidelines will give you a good starting point for developing your remote leadership style. Then, make adjustments along the way to match the needs of your business, employees and projects.

Remote Leadership: The Dos and Don’ts of Managing Your Team from a Distance~/Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/Remote Leadership The Dos and Don’ts of Managing Your Team from a Distance.jpghttps://gp-stage.cbiz.com/Portals/0/liquidImages/WebReady/Remote Leadership The Dos and Don’ts of Managing Your Team from a Distance.jpgDid you know that productivity from employees who work from home is 13% higher than office-bound colleagues? Here are the dos and don’ts have encouraging a productive remote workforce. ...2020-04-06T11:11:50-05:00

Did you know that productivity from employees who work from home is 13% higher than office-bound colleagues? Here are the dos and don’ts have encouraging a productive remote workforce. 

Employee ManagementEmployee Wellbeing